Ongoing research projects

The Viking Ship Museum investigates maritime cultural history on both national and international levels, conducting everything from basic to advanced research, using our collection as the starting point. The research potential of our underwater investigations and experimental archaeological projects was scrutinised and later applied to our research projects. Projects are often conducted in collaboration with other research institutions. 

The research projects conducted between 2015-2019 are aimed at providing substantial contributions to the Viking Ship Museum’s vision and plan for a new Viking Ship Museum focusing on Man, Ship and Sea in ancient and medieval times.  

In this book, Morten Gøthche, investigates the history of the Faroese boat. Gøthche examines the building and use of the boat, and furthermore the significance this boat type had, and still has, in Faroese society.

Publication: Peer-reviewed monograph in the Viking Ship Museum’s series ‘Ships and Boats of the North’.

Project leader: Curator, Morten Ravn 

This publication project describes the trial voyages from Roskilde to Dublin in 2007 and back again in 2008 with the Skuldelev 2 reconstruction, Sea Stallion from Glendalough. The book reflects on the experimental archaeological insights gained during the voyages, and these insights are subsequently compared with both archaeological and written evidence for Viking Age and High Medieval seafaring and society.

Publication: Theme Book from the Viking Ship Museum.  

Project leader: Director, Tinna Damgård-Sørensen 

In this project, the full-scale reconstruction of the Oseberg grave ship, ’Saga Oseberg’, is rigged and subsequently tested under sea conditions. The project is evaluated and contextualised in a research report.

External collaboration: Stiftelsen Nytt Osebergskip, Norge. 

Publication: Research report 

Project leader: Ship reconstructor, Vibeke Bischoff 

From 2005- 2007, the Viking Ship Museum reconstructed and built three boats from late Iron Age and early Viking Age. All three boats are built using large tree trunks as a basic construction element. The tree trunks are hollowed out, heated and subsequently expanded. In this book, Ole Crumlin-Pedersen (†) analyses the archaeological context of the three boat finds, and Hanus Jensen describes the building of the reconstructed boats. 

Publication: Theme Book from the Viking Ship Museum.  

Project leader: Curator, Morten Ravn 

In the past few years, the Viking Ship Museum has conducted underwater surveys with the use of mechanical excavators. This project present the approaches and experiences gained during the   sampling of submerged prehistoric sites in Roskilde Fjord, Storstrømmen (the strait between the islands of  Falster and Zealand) and Køge Harbour.       

Publication: Peer-reviewed articles. 

Project leaders: Curator, Frederik Hyttel, curator, Morten Johansen and curator, Mikkel Thomsen  

Since 2008, the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (DK) has carried out the archaeological assessment and survey required prior to the installation of the trans-Baltic Nord Stream gas pipeline through Danish waters. The project has involved desk-based screening of the data collected as well as archaeological activities in the field. Coast to coast, the 1220 km long twin pipeline crosses Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and German waters. 137.6 km of this is though Danish territorial waters and EEZ. Including an alternative route design approximately 250 km of pipeline corridor has been surveyed in the Danish sector at a width of up to 2 km. Though only a small fraction of the vast seabed, the result is an overwhelming collection of hitherto unknown shipwrecks and other objects dating from the 17th century to the present day: 25 wrecks, seven possible wrecks, and five single objects - to which should be added seven presumed dump sites, the identification and dating of which are inherently problematic.

This paper briefly presents the huge research potential of the wrecks and objects discovered; the methodology employed and patterns in the chronological and spatial distribution of the finds will be discussed. Are all these wrecks, of these particular dates, really representative of the entire surrounding seabed? Or are there circumstances in space and time that explain the apparent abundance of wrecks right along the pipeline and the apparent absence of wrecks of Medieval and earlier date?     

Publiceringskanal: Konferenceberetning fra International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology 13. Amsterdam 2012. 

The military operations of Scandinavian societies in the Viking Age depended on their ships. Different types of ships were used in order to transport troops and war supplies. Some ships were designed to conduct the speedy transport of large numbers of troops; others were specialised cargo vessels used in military operations as carriers of supplies, and in some cases also troops. Not only were different types of ships involved in naval transport, the size of the fleets were also varied: some fleets consisted of only a few ships, others of several hundred. Using the immense amount of empirical data resulting from building full-scale ship reconstructions at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, it is possible to compare the amount of resources necessary for building and maintaining the different ship types with the different fleet sizes. 

Finally, this experimental archaeological insight is compared and discussed with the written evidence for Viking Age military organisation.

Publication: Peer-reviewed paper to the proceedings of the seminar: International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology 14, Gdansk 2015.  

Project leader: Curator, Morten Ravn 


This paper investigates the relationships between shipbuilding, snekke place names and woodland resources in late Viking Age (AD 950-1100) Denmark. Analysis of these relationships leads in turn to reflections on woodland management. The wooden resources utilised in late Viking Age shipbuilding were usually of good quality, suggesting careful selection of materials. However, some ships differ from the norm, in being built using only the finest, or, very poor quality raw materials. Clearly, not all boatbuilders in late Viking Age Denmark had equal access to the best wooden resources. It is evident that building and maintaining the war fleets of the Viking Age required large amounts of specific wooden raw materials, but the extensive and selective use of wooden resources was not limited to shipbuilding. Trees were a source of construction and tool timbers, fuel and leaf-fodder for animals. Trees were also used in the production of tar and charcoal. This multi-facetted use probably resulted in a need for regulating the access to particular wooden resources, such as oak trees with long and straight trunks, which were essential for the shipbuilding conducted in late Viking Age Denmark. It is suggested that naming places after an occurring natural resource used in a specific production may have been used as one way of managing the woodland resources. Finally, it is concluded that in some cases, snekke place names indicate the presence of wooden resources reserved for shipbuilding.       

Publication: Peer-reviewed paper to the proceedings of the seminar: 34th Interdisciplinary Viking Symposium: Vikings in the Baltic. Copenhagen, 8 May 2015.

Project leader: Curator, Morten Ravn 

This project contributes to an anthology on the newly conducted Gokstad investigations. The contribution from the Viking Ship Museum is an article on the Ladby ship-grave.   

Publication: Peer-reviewed paper to the proceedings of the seminar: Early medieval monumental graves in Northern Europe. Sandefjord, 17-19 November 2009. 

Project leader: Team leader Anne C. Sørensen 

This project explores the use of history to shape national identity in Denmark and the United States.  In the late nineteenth century, Denmark rediscovered and embraced the Vikings as a symbol of the Nordic past, and of Danish nationhood.  At the same time, the American cowboy emerged as a national figure in the United States. The similarities between Vikings and cowboys are interesting because Denmark and the United States differed so much in the late nineteenth century.  This study will produce one or more scholarly articles that compare the uses of Viking and cowboy images in defining nationhood; these articles will identify some of the big, shared ideas about nationhood and identity of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Eksternt samarbejde: Professor Sarah Elkind, Department of History, San Diego State University, USA.

Publiceringskanal: International fagfællebedømt artikel. 

Project under development. In this project, the interactions between environmental changes and   human activities in Stone Age Denmark are examined. Besides technological studies, the living conditions for the Stone Age people are analysed. The project focuses on the unique artefacts from the recently conducted underwater investigations in Storstrømmen (the strait between the island Falster and Zealand). The extremely well-preserved artefacts make possible a broad variety of analyses, such as DNA-analyses and use-wear analyses.                           

External collaboration: Needs clarification. 

Publication: Peer-reviewed articles, monograph/PhD-project. 

Project leader: Curator, Morten Johansen 

Project under development. On behalf of Femern A/S, an extensive underwater archaeological investigation of two wreck sites in the Fehmarn Belt was carried out in 2012. The wooden shipwrecks were identified as the Danish warship Lindormen and Dutch merchantman Swarte Arent, both lost in 1644. During the investigation, the remains of the wrecks were documented and trenches excavated in the ships’ interior, leading to numerous finds of equipment, arms, ordnance and personal belongings of the crews. The state of the wrecks was thoroughly assessed and the wrecks covered for long-term protection.

External collaboration: Needs clarification. 

Publication: Peer-reviewed articles and monographs. 

Project leader: Curator, Frederik Hyttel